When it comes to diverse scenery as well as things to see and do, Argentina pretty much has it all, so how do you decide just where to go? This list of the very best places to visit in this vast South American nation will give you a great head start.
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Iguazu Falls, Misiones Province
One of the great natural wonders in the world, Iguazu Falls features more than 250 waterfalls, and is considered to be one of the most breathtaking sights on the planet. The falls are surrounded by the tropical jungle of both Argentina and Brazil, and make Niagara Falls seem like just the drip of a faucet tap. The Argentine side is the best to visit – here, you can get especially up close and personal with the falls, even feeling the mist on your skin. Taking the boat ride on offer will get you even closer, but be prepared to get drenched. While you’re there, you’ll also get to marvel at the colorful parrots soaring in the skies overhead and chattering away in the nearby trees.
With its wide, European-style boulevards, fantastic cuisine and raucous nightlife, Buenos Aires is a city unlike any other. The Argentine capital is one of the most exhilarating cities in the world, with nonstop fun that can be had year round. It’s not uncommon to encounter an impromptu tango performance right on the streets, and pedestrian areas are lined with a multitude of cafes, wine bars and steakhouses known for serving some of the world’s best chops. The passionate population is extremely devoted to fun, and enjoying it all night long.
Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego
Located at the tip of South America, cut off from the northern world by the Strait of Magellan, Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city – the next stop south is Antarctica. Perched on a steep hill, the capital of Tierra del Fuego is bordered by the rocky peaks of the Andes and surrounded by forests, glaciers, lakes and bays, offering activities like glacier trekking, hiking horseback riding, kayaking and even diving. Maybe it’s the austral light, but whatever it is, this spectacular place is incredibly magical with its storied past of shipwrecks, jaw-dropping scenery and indigenous extinction that contributes to the powerful mystique of its end-of-the-earth location.
Perito Moreno Glacier, Santa Cruz
Located in the heart of the Patagonian glacial region near Los Glaciares National Park on the shores of Lake Argentino, Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the world’s biggest glaciers at 19 miles long. Visitors can get up close by taking a boat tour to view massive chunks of ice that break from it, plunging into the waters. The show is never ending, with the detachment of ice blocks of all different sizes, and the roaring, thunder-like sounds they produce before becoming magnificent floating icebergs. The more adventurous can even join a helicopter flight tour to take a walk right on top of it for an especially unique experience.
Famous for its arctic wildlife, this small town near the Valdes Peninsula in the Patagonian region of the country is considered one of the best places in South America, and the world, for whale and penguin watching. From about June through December, visitors can see southern right whales or orcas, some of which come as close as 20 feet from the shore. On Playa la Vicera, a beach with polished pebbles and violet abalone shells that ultimately give way to a sprawl of caramel colored sands, visitors can enjoy the always adorable waddling penguins, along with sea lions and the whitened bones of elephant seals that give it a wistful, timeless atmosphere.
Surrounded by the Andes Mountains, this city on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake draws visitors for its magnificent scenery, Swiss-like atmosphere, and increasingly, for its chocolate. The artisanal food and desert trend started here nearly a half-century ago, when some of the locals realized they had access to an almost infinite variety of foods that weren’t yet reflected in the area’s gastronomy. Today, from regular chocolate bars to all types of fruit-stuffed chocolate, it’s a true paradise for any cocoa connoisseur. Skiers will want to visit during the winter months (America’s summer), and, when those in the Northern Hemisphere are hunkered down trying to keep warm from winter’s chill, visitors here can enjoy outdoor adventures in places like nearby Nahuel Huapi National Park, home to the Nahuel Huapi Lake and opportunities for day hikes and mountain climbing as well as kayaking across the lake.
A decade ago, the city of Cordoba was lauded with the title of Cultural Capital of the Americas, and it continues to fit this city perfectly. It’s known for its fascinating mix of old and new- new referring to its four outstanding galleries, dedicated to emerging classical, contemporary and fine art, its alternative film scene, weekend crafts market and trendy bars where DJs spin electro-tango tunes. Old meaning sites like 17th-century Jesuit ruins and Plaza San Martin, the historic core of Cordoba, with all of its important 17th- and 18th-century colonial-era buildings wrapped around it.
One of the things Argentina is best known and loved for is its outstanding wines. Those who come to enjoy them don’t want to miss Mendoza, which sits in the foothills of the Andes just east of Chile. It’s the main wine region in the country, home to over 1,200 wineries, nearly 400,000 acres of vineyards, and it also accounts for more than 70% of the country’s total wine production. This high desert oasis gets less than 10 inches of rainfall annually, but the vines can rely on the snow melt from the Andes for pure water. The grapes thrive under the strong high altitude sun which shines for over 300 days each year, with the cool nights allowing the grapes to rest and retain the acids that are vital to the wine. The central region is home to the most traditional winemaking areas: Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu, located just slightly south of Mendoza city, producing Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as its most characteristic variety, Malbec.
This spectacular colonial town with its Andean culture is known for its architecture and slow pace of life, home to some of the country’s oldest remnants of the conquering Spanish, which can be found in time-warped adobe churches and heart-rending ballads. Its Spanish colonial influence mixes with the local indigenous tribe known as the Calchaqui, and the Inca cultures, giving it a unique atmosphere. Outdoor adventures await, including whitewater rafting on the Juramento River, jet skiing in the Dique Cabra Corral, hiking the Cerro San Bernardo, and especially heart-pounding activities like bungee jumping and paragliding. It you aren’t looking to get all that active, take the cable car up Cerro San Bernardo and enjoy the view of the city below.
The Misiones Province is not only home to Argentina’s side of Iguazu Falls, but in this extreme north-east region of Argentina, you’ll find untamed jungle with dense forest fanning out in all directions, creating an endless sea of green, thanks to the high amount of rainfall the region gets, particularly in August and September. Misiones is primarily covered by subtropical forest that is home to toucans, monkeys and caiman. You’ll find rustic lodges to lie your head down at night, Jesuit ruins and yerba mate plantations to explore – find out how this tea-like beverage is made, and be sure to try a taste too. If you’re offered a mate by one of the locals, consider yourself privileged as it’s a signal of friendship.